Contrary to popular belief, Islam is not a new religion; one that came into existence a mere 1400 years ago, back in the 7th century. Islam in truth has existed since the first moment that man set foot on Earth.
The final Prophet of mankind, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, was not the founder of Islam, as many people mistakenly believe. Instead, he was sent as the last and final Prophet of God; one delivered by God the Almighty to convey His Universal and Eternal Message to our nation, the final nation. When Prophet Muhamad peace be upon him appeared, he did not bring with him a new religion; rather he brought forth a faith which already existed. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him renewed an ancient tradition of the preceding monotheistic religion. That which has been preached and taught by every previous Messenger and Prophet of God. Prophet Muhammad was only the last and final Prophet, the very seal of the Prophets. Islam is the continuation, the culmination, the final completion of God’s universal and eternal Message to mankind, as revealed to all of God’s previous Messengers and Prophets.
Like all previous Prophets and Messengers of God, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him preached and taught Tawheed—the Oneness of God. He taught that God Alone is worthy of worship and veneration; and that God Alone is the Creator of all. No other being is worthy of worship; not the Sun, the Moon, nor an idol.
Throughout history, anyone who practiced monotheism through their submission to the will of God and the following of his prophet, was considered a Muslim. Human beings have been practicing Islam since the creation of Prophet Adam peace be upon him. Throughout the ages, God the Almighty sent Prophets and Messengers to guide and teach their nations in the way of Islam. All Prophets preached the same general Message to their nations. All of God’s Messengers and Prophets were Muslims by definition, because the term Muslim translates to mean those who submit their will to God the Almighty.
“He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus – to establish the religion and not be divided therein. Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that to which you invite them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him]” (Quran 42:13)
Allah the Glorious states that Prophet Abraham peace be upon him was indeed a Muslim. All three major religions–Islam, Christianity, and Judaism–portray Prophet Abraham peace be upon him as a towering, inspiring example of someone who submitted himself fully to God and worshipped Him without intermediaries. Prophet Abraham peace be upon him played a prominent role in history as an example of pure and true faith.
The Holy Quran shares stories of Prophet Abraham’s firm and steadfast belief in God, calling and preaching the Oneness of God and rejecting the belief of idolatry. He later persevered in the face of various difficult tests and hardships that God placed before him, testing his belief and his loyalty.
With that said, Islam always has stood as the one and only universal Message of God, as all Messengers and Prophets–including Prophet Abraham peace be upon them—were considered ‘Muslims’; i.e., those who submitted their will to God the Almighty. They all followed Islam, which translates to the act of submitting one’s will to God the Almighty. One that engages in the act of submitting their will to God is, by definition, is a Muslim.
“Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists” (Quran 3:67)
Islam teaches the ethic of monotheism; the Oneness and Unity of God. Islam forbids the association of partners with Him, whether in belief or in worship. Islam teaches that Allah, the Unique Arabic name for God, is the One and Unique, Eternal God, the One who neither begets nor is born. There is, very simply, nothing like Him.
Islam teaches that one should live a righteous life with God-consciousness in mind and heart, always following God’s Laws. The one who does so will live in Paradise eternally in the hereafter; the one that does not could be thrown to the hellfire. This edict always has served as the Universal Message of all the previous Prophets sent by God, thus fulfilling the natural predisposition and inclination of the soul in every person. The Holy Quran teaches that the signs and proofs of God’s Wisdom, Existence, and Power, are always evident and visible in the world around us.
One cannot be a Muslim if they do not believe in all of God’s previous Books, and His Messengers and Prophets. Numerous prophets precede Prophet Muhammad, as do previous Scriptures including the Gospel and the Torah. However, the Messages of the past Prophets are not available in their entirety, as their original form was lost. The present-day Bible and Torah texts have been altered, distorted, and changed during the last centuries, so they contain the words of man–not the Divine Being. Since human hands have altered the older Scriptures, the Bible and the Torah of today–as they are published currently–do not comprise their exact and original texts in their pure, unfettered form.
God sent Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him 600 years after the coming of Prophet Jesus, intending him as the World’s last and final Prophet; one sent with the Final Testament, the Holy Quran. Both were meant to serve all of mankind, until the last day. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him did not come bearing a new religion; rather, he came to correct and renew some deviations in monotheism, during a time when the world lived in darkness. God the Almighty sent his Final Messenger to guide humanity to a better place and faith. Since the Holy Quran is the Final Testament of God the Almighty, God has taken it upon Himself to safeguard and protect his Final Book for the good of humanity, and from human-made alterations or any form of corruption.
“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an, and indeed, We will be its Guardian” (Quran 15:9)
The Laws of the Holy Quran now serve to abrogate all previous laws. The concept of One God is also expressed in Judaism. In Deuteronomy Chapter 6 Verse 4, it states ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.’ The term ‘Judaism’ is not found anywhere in the Torah, nor is the word Christianity found anywhere in the Bible–nor did Prophet Jesus nor Moses even hear of these terms. The word Judaism was invented much later, originating from one of the sons of Jacob peace be upon him, a man named Prophet Judah who resided in the land of Judea.
The term Christianity also was introduced much later, and did not exist in the life of Jesus Christ peace be upon him. Unlike Christianity and Judaism, the Holy Quran calls Islam the religion of God.
“Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam (submission to Him)” (Quran 3:19)
If one were to ask all previous Prophets, including Prophet Adam, Prophet Abraham, Prophet Moses, and Prophet Jesus, peace be upon them, about the substance of their religion, they would have answered that their worship finds its basis in the submission to the One God—in other words, Islam. Islam is most literally the act of submitting fully to God. Islam truly is the oldest religion in the world. Islam is the only religion that God ever commanded humankind to follow. Islam, therefore, is the only religion acceptable to and ordained by God. Allah states in the Quran:
“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter, he will be one of the losers” (Quran 3:85)
Islam is the act of voluntary submission, surrender, and obedience to the Will of God. The word ‘Islam’ is derived from an Arabic root word which means peace, purity, safety, salutation, submission, acceptance, surrender, and obedience. With the act of submission, one would attain total peace within themselves, in accordance with their Creator and their fellow beings. The religion of Islam demonstrates that only through the doing of good and the seeking of God’s pleasure can one find true happiness, peace, and contentment–in this life and the hereafter.
Islam spread more rapidly throughout the World than any other religion without the aid of military conquest. Within its first hundred years, Islam came to dominate the Middle East, Northern Africa, parts of Asia, and into Europe. Islam remains the largest growing religion in the World, in spite of all the negative publicity and wrongful actions of misguided extremists committed in the name of this faith. Now the faith boasts 1.8 billion followers, a number which equates to 24% of the global population. Islam is not limited to one ethnicity or group of people. Muslims originate from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, races, cultures, and national origins. And although the world contains more Christians than Muslims, the religion that has the most followers actively practicing their faith and its rituals is Islam. The world boasts a higher percentage of Muslims practicing Islam than Christians practicing Christianity. Islam is projected to surpass Christianity around the year 2070 as the largest religious group in the world.